Reader's Rite 02/03/23: Phones
I am not going to say I’m addicted to my cell phone, but I cannot live without it (cue eye twitch). My whole life is on the 155 mm by 76 mm brick with flashing lights and boppin’ tunes. I have a color-coded Google Calendar that organizes my daily schedule down to the minute. The photos in my camera roll go all the way back to 2015. How else would I send my significant other hourly updates about how many snacks I’ve eaten since he’s been at school? It’s a necessity.
The most important reason I need to always have my cell phone with me is because what if my Meemee or my Mema and Papa call? Answering those is more important than anything else I could possibly be doing.
When I was in high school I babysat for my gym teacher. She had two daughters, and they both hated me, but that’s beside the point. One night, she and her husband were going out to dinner and I was supposed to be there from seven until they got home. When I arrived the girls were already asleep, so all I had to do was watch television and listen to the baby monitors.
It was going perfectly fine until my phone rang. It was a no caller ID number, and normally I don’t answer my phone unless I recognize the number. For some reason I picked it up anyway. I said “Hello?” and waited for the caller to say something. Pretty quickly I realized that it was not someone I knew, and they were saying weird stuff that I couldn’t really make out. I got a bad feeling and hung up, thinking it was just a prank call or wrong number.
To my surprise, this person kept calling and I kept declining, getting more and more nervous. Eventually a “new voicemail” notification popped up on my screen. I was so terrified but had to listen to it. While I was listening the number was still calling me more times. The voicemail was really creepy, and the man was saying something about watching me and breaking into the house to kill me. He actually said he was going to kill me.
As you can imagine, this felt a little too much like “Scream,” and I completely freaked out. I went into fight or flight mode which for me always means flight. I didn’t want to be locked in the house with a murderer so I went outside and called my mom in hysterics. Obviously leaving the children in the house wasn’t my most valiant effort to keep them safe, but I was 16, so I’m sorry about that.
My mom said she was on her way and had me call the parents. My mom stayed with me until they got home, and they felt really bad that something so scary had happened to me. Luckily, I
haven’t gotten any calls like that since. Knock on wood.
I would not say I am addicted to my phone, as everyone does; however… I love to call my parents, listen to music and mindlessly scroll through social media. In fact, when I say “call my parents,” I mean spilling the tea or asking them for their opinion on a topic. The latter actually came in handy for an assignment that I had for a history course. We had to ask people outside the class what they think of when they hear “the history of food.” This conversation was highly entertaining to partake in. Spilling the tea is fun because most of it is me telling them about my day and them reporting on the cat and dog. Sometimes I feel like I am on my own podcast or something: these conversations can go from 30 minutes to 2 hours and 20 minutes — that was the latest call. But who is really counting when the conversation is popping off, right?
Other than using the phone as a phone I like to scroll through social media. Contrary to my friends’ beliefs, I usually average about four hours a day, in total, on my phone. Most of my time is spent on my Instagram accounts (yes, plural). I have an account for my cat (@ThatGingyCat), dog (@AugiMyDogi) and me. The music I play is usually in the background of me doing my homework or when I am walking the halls. (From Jan. 19 to Jan. 30, I clocked in 10,000 minutes.)
I’m not too proud of a person to admit I’m addicted to my cell phone, though I think adults who complain about “kids these days and their phones” should ask themselves whose generation made and marketed the phones to us in the first place, but I will say that I do have my limits. After an on-and-off-again relationship for the last three years, TikTok and I parted ways more than half a year ago, probably never to reconcile again. I’m the kind of person who will say “one more video!” and then waste the next *checks watch* three hours if it keeps me from having to do homework. I tend to stick to Instagram (cons: more toxic IMO, and the overall content quality is less personalized/less entertaining for me specifically than the content offered on TikTok. Pros: both of the aforementioned reasons make it far less addictive for me), and I try to spend my free time reading or journaling when I can. Overall, I use my phone most often for music (Spotify > Apple Music and I have a whole rant prepared on this subject), second most often to text (especially to beat people in GamePigeon mancala) and third most often to obsessively check my emails/D2L/bank account at all hours of the day. But that’s pretty normal… right?
I have a lot of thoughts on this topic, given that I’ve written an entire article in this paper about it. I hate the dependency I, as well as the rest of the world, has on their phones. I sometimes wish we could go back to a time where phones didn’t exist. I like to think I’d be more productive or have more hobbies or read more books. I try to limit my screen time as much as I can, but sometimes it’s hard to resist the temptation of TikTok after a long day of classes and work.
My friends nag me to share my location with them, which I just think is a complete invasion of privacy on any level. I relented to my mother, but that’s it. If people didn’t need to share locations back before we had phones, we don’t have to now. I definitely have a love-hate relationship with my phone, but it’s something that is going to be there whether I like it or not. I try hard to be more mindful, but my phone has helped me realize that maybe I just need to be less hard on myself and continue to spend time doing things I love rather than doom-scrolling in my bed.